Because I’m such a reader, and because I was forced to just sit and relax so much this year, I read a lot of books. Here’s my list of the best of what I read this year (in no particular order):
1. Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. All my favorite things rolled up in one book – Africa, history, medicine, well created characters and a riveting and moving story. A must read, if you’re a reader.
2, 3 & 4. The Millenium Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson. While these were not the best written novels, they are very interesting, different, controversial and I just loved Lisbeth.
5. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. A moving, and very honest look at the dynamics between African American maids/nannies and their employers in the 60’s. I think the lessons cross over into today’s world, as well.
6. Just Kids, by Patti Smith. I was always fascinated by both Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Saw her in concert in college, and saw one of his very controversial shows in the 90’s. This is one of the sweetest, best written memoirs I’ve ever read. She comes across as a gentle, loyal, loving and passionate artist, which surprised me, given her stage persona where she comes across as a wild animal. One of my favorite reads of the year.
7. Little Bee, by Chris Cleave. Horrifying, yet fascinating, I couldn’t put it down. Made me cringe, yet seemed very honest and real. It is not for the faint hearted.
8. Every Last One: A Novel, by Anna Quindlen. An unusual story for Quindlen. As a mother, I could relate. She beautifully captures the mundanity of daily family life, while also showing the beauty and joy that lies in that very mundanity, which is only really realized until after it’s been snatched away.
9. Room: A Novel, by Emma Donoghue. Another very dark and disturbing novel. Yet, the story of the deep love between the mother and the boy was quite moving and uplifting.
10. The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddartha Mukherjee. Right now I’m slogging through this very intense book which reads like a mystery novel. The author is an oncologist who literally traces cancer’s “life” from Egyptian times through today. The thing that shocks me the most is how little we still know about the disease, and how so many of the discoveries occurred in such a random way.
Next on the list: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloots and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, which are both supposed to be amazing.
I see a pattern. Stories of shock, horror, the unthinkable, redemption, love and perseverance were my favorites this year. Sort of sums up 2010 for me. Support the economy and go buy some books at your favorite local book store in 2011. Much love, Claudia